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No. 20
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02/04/2007 No. 20
he Guardian G2 Poker Column
Victoria Coren
Monday April 02, 2007

The big news this week is that actor Michael Greco (formerly "EastEnders heartthrob Michael Greco") has won the Cardiff leg of the Grosvenor UK Poker Tour. This is an excellent result for poker: when Sky News trumpets "Soap star pockets £100,000!", this can only attract more players to the game.

The GUKPT was already shaping up to be a hugely successful tournament series before this newsworthy win. The time was ripe to create a British triplet for the World Poker Tour and European Poker Tour. The first three events have been well attended, due to the satellite tournaments in Grosvenor casinos nationwide (allowing players to win cheap entry tickets), and the goodwill created by sponsors Blue Square adding money to every prize pool. My only quibble with Cardiff is that the prize structure was a little steep: £3,150 seems too small a reward for finishing 11th out of 315, for example. But it's possible I only think that because I came 11th.

The series' broadcast on Channel 4 later this year, combined with Greco's publicity, can only boost the numbers and prize pools further. A significant result for all players, as well as being a psychological boost for Greco himself. He will be enjoying the sense of having proven something to those who saw him only as the Bloke Off Celebrity Love Island and couldn't take him seriously at the table. He certainly plays more seriously than Jimmy White, who snatched the 2003 Poker Million away from Joe Beevers in the last "surprise celebrity victory".

We female poker players know what it's like when people make assumptions about your game based on irrelevant factors. Greco must be feeling vindicated, and I'm delighted for him. For anybody else with something to prove: satellites are running now for the next GUKPT event, in Manchester.

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